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U.S. police finally catch bank robber dubbed 'AK47 Bandit'

U.S. police finally catch bank robber dubbed 'AK47 Bandit'

Richard Gathercole, the Roundup man arrested for allegedly shooting at a Kansas State Highway Trooper last week, was identified Tuesday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the notorious AK-47 Bandit, who one agent called "Public Enemy Number 1".

Richard Gathercole of Roundup, Montana, was arrested June 20th at a gas station in Lexington, Nebraska.

The alleged shooting at a Kansas State Trooper happened exactly one week after Gathercole was arrested in Musselshell County for a traffic offense. The trooper was not injured in the shooting.

Police from Chino, California, and Rexburg, Idaho, participated in the search, according to the Musselshell County Sheriff's department. Investigators searched the home in the town of Roundup, Montana, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Billings, on Saturday and found "numerous" improvised explosive devices, authorities said.

A search of his home turned up several explosives and the weapon connecting him to the crimes, including the California bank robbery.

Richard Lee Gathercole, 39, is being held in Nebraska after a multi-agency investigation tied him to a series of six bank robberies across five states since 2012, FBI and Chino police officials announced in a joint press conference Tuesday.

The request tipped off federal agents to the trail of one of the country's most sought-after bank robbers, the "AK-47 Bandit", who is suspected of shooting and seriously wounding a Chino, Calif., police officer and carrying out a string of heists in California, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and Mason City.

On Feb. 29, 2012, the so-called AK-47 bandit robbed the California Bank & Trust on 5455 Riverside Dr.in Chino, police said.

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On the morning of July 28th 2015, a bank robbery occurred at the Heartland Community Credit Union in Mason City, Iowa. Authorities say a Montana man accused of shooting at a Kansas state trooper is a bank robber dubbed "the AK-47 bandit" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"My understanding is that during the bank robberies he was ruthless", said Musselshell County Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik. Police say he had a bulletproof vest, an AK-47 and a mask in his auto.

A jailhouse phone call transcript showed Gathercole asked his mother to clear his Montana home of guns following his arrest. The suspect was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and wore body armor, as well as a ski mask.

The FBI had offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the man's arrest and conviction.

One of those may have occurred at a bank in Vacaville, California, in 2012.

San Bernadino District Attorney Mike Ramos said the day of Gathercole's arrest in Nebraska was a good day for his county. A sheriff's deputy had spotted a pickup that Kansas authorities had said was stolen by a man who fired at a state trooper Monday along Interstate 70.

The Chino Police Chief and Rexburg Police Chief were not immediately available for comment.

Ramos said he plans to file several charges against Gathercole, including attempted murder of a peace officer.


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